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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Voices of the Ancestors

April 6th, 2017

Marietjie Henning

OBOD members Gail Nyoka and Sara Corry are involved in a wonderful story gathering project entitled Voices of the Ancestors. Sara is co-director of Healthy Villages,Inc which is a non-profit organisation that supports initiatives that seek to provide ‘good health for residents of under-served villages in West Africa by developing and carrying out comprehensive sustainability plans that include adequate access to healthcare services, sanitation, nutritious food, and employment opportunities.’

Gail and Sara, along with ​Godfried Agbezudor, will take a 21 day trip in November through Ghana and Togo, visiting villages, listening to and gathering stories from the Ewe and Fon tribes. The aims of the project are:

  • ​Revitalization of storytelling in the villages
  • Younger generations learn the stories and improve literacy in their native language
  • Increased cultural pride both in the region and amongst those of African ancestry in the diaspora community
  • Heightened awareness and knowledge of this fascinating cultural group throughout the world
  • A future writing project using the stories will develop a culturally based ecological focus for use in schools

Gail shares her thoughts about the project,

Far, far away is Africa. When I first heard of it, they called it the Dark Continent. What was in that darkness? Danger, I imagined. Wild beasts and wild, dark people.  That is what they told me, a lifetime ago.

A light has shone on that continent. From the shadows, I’ve caught glimpses of a land of wide rivers, wider savannas, tall forests, ancient cities and civilizations built on gold.

There are stories to be learned of this cradle of human life. There are stories of the land and the stars and of how life began, and how life has been lived.

So many stories, they slip through the fingers of time. I would catch them if I could. I would take one little fragment of that continent and cup it in the palm of my hand. And with my gaze, I would map the soul of Africa. I would ask for the African earth to sing to me.  I would ask that the ancestors I have never known would breathe through the dance of the wind. I would know Africa like ribbons of light, streaming through the darkness, illuminating the passing of its stories, and I would hold them to me, hold them to the eyes of the outer world, and to the babies yet to be born, waiting in the loud darkness of the womb.

Voices of the Ancestors: Environmental Education Through Storytelling

A journey to the Volta region of Ghana, and into western Togo is planned for November 2017. In partnership with Healthy Villages Inc., I will be recording the stories of the elders in remote villages in the region. On my return, I will transcribe the stories for publication, along with profiles of the storytellers of the Ewe and Fon peoples of the area. The Voices of the Ancestors project will preserve stories in danger of dying. The words of an elderly woman speak loudly: “I haven’t told these stories in a long time! … But I’m going to practice telling my grandchildren the stories I can remember.”

This project will capture stories of the land and its people. It is a project for current generations and those yet to be born.

To learn more and support this fabulous project visit click here. 

5 Responses to “Voices of the Ancestors”

  1. Wonderful project, collecting stories. After all, it’s our stories that connect us as a species. May Mother Goddess bless you on this journey.

    • Thanks Aparna! We are excited about the project and are praying our funding comes through. The changes that have taken place in the villages over the years are shocking and saddening, as if the people are losing all hope. We hope that working together, we can bring some hope back to the people.

  2. Gail Nyoka, as someone who has studied human origins from Africa, precolonial African civilizations and colonialism of the ‘Dark Continent’, I applaud your sentiments! /|\

    • Thanks Michael! We appreciate your comment. We are based in a small, remote village in SE Ghana, and we live these realities every day. Some of the things we witness are truly heartbreaking. We hope this project will renew hope in the future in places where daily struggles are such a challenge.

  3. This is a wonderful project! The description of the project is clearly written by one who loves stories and understands them and their importance. May the project take on a life of its own to grow into a sustainable effort into the future!!

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